In continuation with the Bowls Motoring ‘Road Trip’ series, myself James, Ad, and Les returned for another journey across Thailand to a popular town called Hua Hin. The planned trip was to last for 5 days travelling from Phuket to Ao Nang for an overnight stay and to check that the bikes were fit. Then, the following day go from Ao Nang to Hua Hin which would involve some 10yrs of riding (to include quick coffee stops).
The machines: Ad joined us on his black trusty Honda CBR 650F (his other bike is a stunning 2004 Kawasaki ZX-10R), Les on his brand new BMW R1250GS Triple black adventure, and me on my on newly purchased and newly sprayed black 2010 Gen II 1340cc Suzuki Hayabusa.
“The beauty of this type of ride is that, once your off Phuket Island, it’s so much nicer to ride”.Ad – Farangbowl Magazine.
Day 1 – Phuket to Ao Nang
The three of us agreed to meet at the huge Shell petrol station in Chalong before heading off to Ao Nang some 181km away (a good 3hrs drive according to Google Maps). The bikes all looked great, and we were fully charged and looking forward to a) getting away from the ridiculous traffic and driving of those who inhabit the island of Phuket b) riding our bikes long distance, and c) watching the stunning vistas role by as we cruise across the country.
This part of the trip took us through Pang Nga (image right), which in my opinion has some of the best scenery of the whole trip. The almost prehistoric looking mountains that always remind me of the floating land masses in the blockbuster movie Avatar never cease to amaze. They appear to have erupted out the ground and, in some cases, look like they may even topple. It gives the impression you are entering another, make believe world. Ad has written a couple of journal articles for the Bowl covering his regular visits to Ao Nang where he goes into greater details. Do go find them on this site.
Day 1 was a good ride getting us all into the riding zone and running the bikes in. We passed the Royal Residence area which as the name suggests is owned by the Royal family of Thailand. From the road all you can see is lush forests of well-kept trees and vegetation. At this point you are just a stone’s throw away from pulling into Ao Nang proper and its beach. This is always a view I welcome with open arms. We checked into our hotel, then had a meal followed by an early night as we had the REAL ride early the following morning.
Day 2 – Ao Nang to Hua Hin
Following breakfast, we got going and headed north up to Chumphon where we would head west on the A4201, right on to the 4034, and finally right onto route 44 from Chumphon to Hua Hin. I think around 4hrs into the ride my bum started to go numb, however, the gorgeous straight with some curved roads just pulled me back into the thrill of the adventure. One of my pet hates is when cars (usually driven by Thais) think they are also motorbikes and start to race you. You open the throttle to get them off your rear tire (yes, they do get that close) and they weave in and out of the same gaps you do even taking advantage of the hard shoulder to undertake (they do this a lot here). The best thing to do is let them pass because they are bloody dangerous drivers.
Given this was my first long endurance ride I was aware that I would start to feel aches and pains and that I would have to find ways of dealing with it. At around 6-7hrs into the ride I was getting aches is my throttle wrist and there were southern areas of my anatomy that had seen better days. I was also fatigued, and sun burnt on my uncovered wrists. Aware that most accidents happen within 30mins of heading off or 30mins just before arriving on a bike journey, I deliberately switched off my music and just concentrated on being safe. I must admit that there was one moment I closed my eyes a bit longer than I was comfortable with, and I think this was heat stroke. Be careful of this riders!!!
There is this wonderful open stretch of road just before you pull into Hua Hin town center that I recognized from previous visits with an ex-girlfriend. The time was around 18:30 and the sun was setting. This cast a stunning light across the horizon that had me mesmerized. I knew we had arrived and that the hard part was drawing to a close. It was a moment that stays with you.
We had a good meal in the evening at an Italian restaurant called Lo Stivale on Naret Damri Alley and had an Irish Coffee for St. Patrick’s Day before heading back to the hotel to pass out.
Day 3 Hua Hin
We agreed to stay two nights in Hua Hin and I was relieved. Love my bike as much as I do, I just couldn’t even look at her following that 10hr ride. My backside was refusing to talk to me too. We had some things to do today such as visit a local Honda store to buy a biker vest for me, then get our hair cut (Les and I), and finally walk around some popular parts of Hua Hin. I would like to add that we did this trip in mid-March. April is the hottest time of the year here in Thailand so to say it was sweltering is an understatement.
Given how I felt on day 3 (spinning head, low energy), it is fair to say that I suffered from mild heat stroke. As a consequence, Ad decided we break up the return trip and stop in Chumphon from Hua Hin. I was relived to say the least.
I did some filming around the town area near the beach and to reiterate the heat here, people, including myself were either walking around with sun umbrellas or running underneath any canopy that created shade (it was that hot and close to unbearable). The three of us got some food again and retired for the trip to Chumphon the next day.
Day 4 Hua Hin to Chumphon
As the trip to Chumphon was going to halve the distance planned, we woke later than usual and got on the bikes around 10ish. This was a return trip on roads we travelled on days prior and was pleasant riding. It felt so much better knowing that it wasn’t a 10hr slog ahead and I enjoyed it more.
I went onto a biker web forum called Gt-rider.com to find a suitable/friendly biker hotel to stay in Chumphon. A post from 2007 mentioned the Jansom Hotel, however, upon arrival this hotel was abandoned and closed down. Luckily there were plenty of alternatives in proximity. We opted for the Nana Buri Hotel just up the road.
I had an ex-girlfriend from Chumphon and had previously stayed here, however, that was over 10yrs ago and the place had changed. Les and I ventured out for dinner and enjoyed a great meal at the Old Time Café/Restaurant and then grabbed a drink at a Thai style club following a referral from a pub owner. Great staff and open-air bar with a nightclub, however, not a taxi in sight when we wanted to leave and the pair of us had to walk 3mins back into town to our hotel. Always ask about out about taxi returns 😉.
Day 5 Chumphon to Ao Nang
As Chumphon was a bit sleepier than we remembered, I think we were all looking forward to getting back to familiar ground in the form of the Machorat Hotel and Ao Nang.
Once we arrived and got ourselves together, following dinner I decided to walkaround the coastal town to see what what was happening.
There are parts of Ao Nang that reminded me of streets in Spain with huge walking street style pavements and an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops.
Lots of couples and families here and I highly recommend it to anyone who is tired of always visiting Phuket or Samui.
I wasn’t really feeling like a night out and retired shortly after dinner and filming.
Day 6 Ao Nang to Phuket
Les stayed on in Ao Nang and Ad and I headed back to Phuket together. I thoroughly enjoyed this ride, and we took it in our stride and kept it sensible. Just a pleasant cruise onto terra firma with a couple of coffee breaks thrown in. Ad and I parted company and headed back to our abodes in Chalong. I parked the bike up and gave her a pat on the tank for a job well done.
Thank you to Ad for arranging this trip, Les for keeping us company, and to all the staff at the Machorat hotel in Ao Nang that always greet us with a smile and make us feel so comfortable.
To all supporters of the Farangbowl, as always thank you for reading.
Address: 126 Ao Nang, เมือง Krabi 81180
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/9EjxiqQxnKy5RGK97
Lo Stivale Italian Restaurant
Address: Naresdamri Road, Hua Hin, Thailand
Call: 032 513 800
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/GcDZjMQnwkgBrQKa9
Address: 174/9 65 Hua Hin Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110
Call: 032 532 244
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/q2P9b39AS5zBW1v96
Nana Buri Hotel
Address: 355/9 Pra Chaaootid ถนนประชาอุทิศ Tha Taphao, Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon 86000
Google maps: https://goo.gl/maps/9aUzV6jq96eiykSa6
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